TORONTO -- The Seattle Sounders are on the verge of winning their first MLS Cup.
After seven years of disappointment in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, the Sounders will face Toronto FC in the MLS Cup final on Saturday night hoping to lift the Philip F. Anschutz trophy for the first time (8 pm ET, FOX, UniMás | TSN1/3/4, RDS in Canada).
Seattle Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey is no stranger to championship-winning teams, having won the 2009 MLS Cup with Real Salt Lake. That win helped propel the club to heights that they had not reached before on the business side and Lagerwey believes a Sounders win on Saturday could have a similar affect.
“If we win this game I think it’s potentially transformational. One of the things we said at the business meeting was [that] we want to sell out the stadium. We’re at 40,000 and we are tops in MLS and that’s great," said Lagerwey after Friday's training session. "The Seahawks sell 68,000 [tickets] a game and we think we can too in the next 10 years. The way we get there is by creating moments like winning championships.”
The Sounders certainly aren’t starved for support, as evidenced by their average attendance, but Lagerwey believes that a win could go even farther in lengthening the Sounders’ reach in Seattle.
The team that the Sounders share their stadium with, the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, are known for their fan support. Their home games are some of the loudest the league has ever seen and while the Sounders experience similar frenzies in the stands, they have not experienced a league championship like the Seahawks' 2013 Super Bowl triumph.
“If you win hopefully more people tune in and more people pay attention. Maybe they say ‘Hey, I want to come out and check out a Sounders game next year.’ One thing we learned even from the Seahawks, Super Bowls matter. They weren’t selling out games until they made the Super Bowl and then after that, from what people tell me, the lull between Super Bowl one and two it fell off a little bit then when they won the Super Bowl it’s been lights out from then on. No pattern is perfectly equated but if you look at their example, if we won, it would be pretty exciting.”
There’s little doubt about what a championship can do to rally a fan base. Just look back at last year’s MLS Cup when the Portland Timbers returned home to a packed airport, followed by a raucous victory parade. It's a scene the Sounders are hoping to repeat on their home turf in 2016.